Be Prepared For Vaccinations – Don’t Make Our Mistake

A selection of Malaria advice leaflets

Twelve months ago ITALIAN/Franca & I decided that leaving our friends & families behind to explore the world was for us, the dream, the ideal day-to-day life that we would make our best effort to have. We’d decided to go tour the cities, view the villages & admire the oceans without a plan to hold us to anyone else’s agenda, without plane tickets we couldn’t afford to miss or replace & without the thought of ‘how holiday days left before we go home?’.

Careful planning was never on our agenda, both me & ITALIAN/Franca aren’t configured that way mentally. ITALIAN/Franca is by far the most organised for planning & plotting flights, thats for sure, but when it comes to the ‘What happens next?’ stage of our day-to-day, well:

We’d rather just take it as it comes…

…until the day we read this post on travel vaccinations from Lauren @ NeverEndingFootsteps.

Franca having an injection in her arm

ITALIAN/Franca fell upon Lauren’s blog towards the beginning of the year & has been avidly following her day-to-day via Twitter & the blog pretty much seconds after they’re posted, so when Franca was browsing the history of where Lauren had come from, where she was going & how she was planning to do it; Franca found this deeply researched & informative blog about her own experiences with travel vaccinations & what that should mean to each reader. Franca read it, loved it, sent it to me & I did the very same. First impressions? Maybe we’d better revise our ‘Preparation? What preparation?!’ opinions.

What we came to realize rather quickly was that with an intent to see as much of the world as possible it would be medically wise to get ourselves vaccinated for the countries that we’d placed highest on our combined list – pretty much all of South East Asia with the possibility of South America sometime in the not too distant future.

ALWAYS USE PROTECTION™

About 4 months ago, I set myself up for some medical advise via an appointment at my local medical clinic (my GP) where I spent about 30 minutes with a really friendly medic who took me through various countries & the various possible illnesses that one could burden themselves with. I must admit, I probably wasn’t the most helpful person ever, answering each question of ‘Are you going to ????’ with ‘Ahhk, probably’.

First we discussed which direct: East or West? East
Then we discussed the length of time: Holiday or Backpacking? Backpacking
Third & lastly we discussed which route we’d take: Train through Russia, Mongolia & China or Train through Western Asia towards Japan or flight direct to South East Asia? Train through Russia, etc.

Dale getting yet another vaccination

So what next? Well, the medic advising pulled me alongside her computer and began to go through an incredibly informative website intended for medical staff to go to for country dependent information on vaccinations required, malaria precautions & yellow fever certificate possibilities. NATHNAC’s simple ‘click on map’ direction system takes you from continent down to country & in some cases country to region , going into details on natural disasters in that region, the general risks involved during the everyday, the recommended vaccinations for vaccine preventable diseases but also tips & recommendations for non-preventable ones too.

When the meeting had finished and all of my notes had been scribbled down (with some help!), I set off home to inform ITALIAN/Franca that perhaps we may has not completely thought this all through. Perhaps we should get just a little bit of planning get among’st our ideas & hair-brained schemes, maybe we should go down the right medically planned route & get ourselves vaccinated against everything & everyone else. She completely agreed. Why risk what you can’t replace? Your health.

Non Negotiable

So we left it late, the vaccinations are careful thought out programs that can take weeks & weeks & weeks – up to 5 months for the three Tick-Borne Encephalitis injections – and with each one comes a hefty cost too, from prescription to purchase & administration. In the case of ourselves, that cost came to over £1000. Heavy price but better than paying with your life, no?

UPDATE – After typing this, Lauren of NeverEndingFootsteps posted a update that, after reading this, will certainly make you think.